The Terrorist Attacks of 9/11 and the Resulting Changes to U.S. Homeland Security

On 11 September 2001, al-Qaida (AQ) conducted a well-organized, coordinated attack against multiple major targets in the United States. These attacks were largely successful in achieving their goals, with the exception of Flight 11, which was thwarted; it is believed, by passengers aboard the airliner. Despite the latter, these attacks, described by many observers as a “Second Pearl Harbor,” not only successfully attacked their targets but achieved exponentially greater long-term, strategic gains for the group, lead by Osama bin Ladin. Clearly, the nation was caught off guard by these attacks.

As a direct result of these attacks, U.S. Homeland Security undertook an unprecedented re-evaluation in virtually all government sectors, particularly amongst the two major domestic entities most responsible for defending the Homeland: the Intelligence Community (IC) and the Department of Defense (DoD). Both of these groups implemented massive changes, backed by equally profound (and controversial) legislation from the White House and Congress.

These attacks and the legislative, administrative, judicial and military changes that followed laid the foundations for Homeland Security as we know it today. Therefore, it is essential that we explore and understand the attacks of 9/11 and the resulting changes that took place soon after that event, as well as the decision to take the nation to war in Afghanistan, a war that continues to this day.

In this case, your task is to:

    Explain how AQ was able to establish terrorist cells within the United States capable of carrying out these attacks without detection.
    Identify the major failures in the IC and DoD that enabled AQ to conduct these attacks and the shortcomings of each prior to 9/11 – particularly the failure of IC agencies and the DoD to share intelligence.

Be sure to properly cite your quotations that you use to support your statements.